Cotton trading operations across India are halted currently due to COVID -19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns; leading to piling of around 100 lakh quintals of unsold cotton with farmers. Farmers are struggling to sell balance cotton with them and are in dire need of money for procurement of seeds and fertilizers for sowing of crops in Kharif season.
The Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) Ltd and Maharashtra State Cotton Growers Marketing Federation (MSCCGMF) Ltd have started procurement of cotton from farmers, however they are not in a position to procure entire unsold cotton in limited time mainly due to lack of sufficient skilled manpower for cotton grading while procurement.
Cotton grading is a highly skilled job. Specialized training is required for becoming a competent grader. ICAR-CIRCOT is the only organization in India, which is competent and is equipped with necessary infrastructure and manpower to impart skills needed for cotton grading.
Amidst lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, ICAR-CIRCOT received numerous requests from several District Collectors from the State of Maharashtra to mitigate problem of cotton procurement by providing theoretical and hands on training on Cotton Grading and procurement to Agriculture Officers on urgent basis.
Looking into the gravity of the problem faced by cotton farmers and Govt. of Maharashtra and in spite of risk of COVID-19 pandemic, ICAR-CIRCOT came forward for the benefit of farmers and went ahead with conducting training program so that unsold cotton from farmers could be procured before onset of the monsoon.
First batch of five days training program on cotton grading and procurement is started on May 11th, 2020 at Ginning Training Centre of ICAR-CIRCOT, Nagpur. Twenty nine Agricultural Officers from four districts of Maharashtra, namely Nagpur, Latur, Parbhani and Nanded are undergoing training.
Training program is undertaken with guidance and support from Dr. K. Alagusundaram, DDG (Engg), Dr. S. N. Jha, ADG (PE) and Dr. Kanchan. K. Singh, ADG (FE). Dr. P. G. Patil, Director, Dr. S. K. Shukla, Principal Scientist and Dr. V. G. Arude, Senior Scientist from ICAR-CIRCOT played a vital role in planning and executing this training program which would bring smiles on the faces of cotton farmers.